Chunky Roundup

  • If you’re anything like me, you consider Jackie Collins’ words to be about as insightful and comprehensible to your life as those incomprehensible furniture instructions printed who knows where. Yet Ms. Collins seems to believe that she can help Victoria Beckham. Perhaps Ms. Collins is attempting to atone for past conversational setbacks. Or perhaps she’s alarmed that Tony Danza didn’t follow her advice to get his nipples pierced in order to ward off evil eidolons. Either way, I’m awaiting the inevitable novel fictionalizing Ms. Collins’ admonishments, Fool Me Spice, Shame on Me.
  • It wouldn’t be a Tuesday without a Lethem story. (Hell, it would be Tuesday without a Collins story. But I’ve already blown that promise and you can send your disused prophylactics to me by mail in protest.) It appears that Boston musicians are creating an original song from the lyrics in Lethem’s upcoming novel, You Don’t Love Me Yet. The winning song will be unfurled at Lethem Central and it will be performed at the Coolidge Corner Theatre on March 27. Whether this will translate into a Clap Your Hands-style indie hit through the Internet or an unsettling choice at your karaoke bar of choice remains anyone’s guess.
  • Cathy Young offers this disingenuous claim: “Respectable modern-day literature has no shortage of derivative works: What are Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead or John Updike’s Gertrude and Claudius but Hamlet fanfics?” I think not. There’s a fundamental difference between “writers” who labor over bad prose describing Kirk schtupping Spock and writers like Stoppard offering a witty and separately realized tale of two overlooked bumblers. In Hamlet, R&G were little more than minor characters with scant attributes. Plus, I don’t believe international copyright law applies to works published in 1599. Besides, it’s not as if Updike and Stoppard are going to other characters for the majority of their work. Updike and Stoppard have indelible characters like Rabbit Angstrom and Moon to fuel their respective imaginations. Fanfic writers, by contrast, often have no narrative ideas other than derivative stories involving characters they don’t own or have not created. Further, they are often inept with subject-verb agreement. I advise novice writers to toil at such infecundities at their own peril. What’s more, Ms. Young has also taken Lee Goldberg’s comments out of context. But then one would expect no less of a self-acknowledged fan fiction writer accustomed to absconding with characters she has neither the right nor the talent to tinker with. (And lest I be accused of attacking Ms. Young’s character, let’s let her fiction speak for itself. This story reveals such blunders as “Xena’s voice spilled into his reverie.” You mean, Xena’s voice is liquid as opposed to aural? Who knew? Or how about: “Back in his leather pants, Ares came out into the main room of the house.” The prepositional phrase is unnecessary. We’re already in the goddam house. The words “out into” are oxymoronic. And what in the hell does that dreadful clause about the leather pants have to do with the sentence’s purpose? I could examine this dreadful prose at length, but I’d rather spend a weekend hiring someone to saw my limbs off.)


  1. Call the police! Fanfic writers are stealing copyrighted work and perpetrating bad grammar and unnecessary prepositional phrases! Sheesh–what a prig.

  2. Speaking of blunders, your post “reveals such blunders as”:

    1. Awkward repititions:

    “…an unsettling choice at your karaoke bar of choice”

    2. Nonsense usages:

    “comprehensible to your life”

    3. Nonparallel structures:

    ” ‘writers’ who labor over bad prose describing Kirk schtupping Spock and writers like Stoppard offering [try “who offer”] a witty and separately realized tale of two overlooked bumblers”

    4. Mangled idioms:

    “I advise novice writers to toil at such infecundities at their own peril.” [You advise them to do what precisely?]

  3. Hey Darby: Has it ever occurred to you that some of my phrasings were INTENTIONALLY BAD? But never mind this. Your remarks here don’t even address the argument. Even for a Pynchonite who doesn’t even have the cojones to reveal his real name (could you, in fact, be Ms. Young herself!), you’re doing a pisspoor job in defending fanfic’s honor. You’re going to have to do better than straw man arguments, pipsqueak.

  4. Dear Ed: the guy who composes under the altar ego “DrMabuse” complains about a letter-writer who “doesn’t even have the cojones to reveal his real name”? What? Also, upon consideration, if Ed Champion is the real name of a real person, well, perhaps Darby Suckling is the real name of a real person. Both names are uncommon. Also (and this is just nit-picking for the pure joy of the act), why do you refer to the letter writer as “he” if you suspect the letter-writer of being “Ms.Young”? Don’t say you think the letter-writer is male.

    This is all just to say that “Darby Suckling”, whoever he or she is, definitely owns you in the comment numbered “3”, and it would be honest of you, and nice of you, to admit the fact. So touchy!

  5. He/she/it doesn’t own me at all. He/she/it never addressed my argument. Offer an argument that fan fiction represents literature on the level and I’ll happily listen.

    As to my “altar ego” and related topics, obviously you’ve never heard of irony. Long-time readers are aware that “Ed Champion” is a fabricated sobriquet and that these musings come from a 54 year old botanist named Doris Entwhistle, who I pay quite well.

  6. Dear Ms Entwhistle:

    DS implicitly addressed your argument by addressing the flaw in it, which was, namely, that listing the flaws inherent in fanfiction (“stealing copyrighted work and perpetrating bad grammar “) does not mean that fanfiction does not have literary value. Such value would be apparent in Chabon’s The Final Solution, which is both an acceptable Sherlock Holmes pastiche and a meditation on what life means as one approaches death.

    I’ve presented an argument. I’m assuming you’re happily listening. Stop being so touchy, Doris.

  7. Orlando: I’m not touchy. But now we’re arguing! (DS didn’t bring up these specific points, but I’m happy to volley.)

    That wasn’t the whole of my argument, as clearly imputed with the Updike and Stoppard examples that Ms. Young herself uses. I don’t accept Updike, Stoppard and Chabon as fan fiction (like you apparently do), because there are deeper thematics and characterizations (often elaborations on other characters) that clearly go beyond the morass I qualify as “fan fiction” (see Young, Cathy above) and into the realm of LITERATURE! It is reasonable to reference culture in fiction, particularly when in the public domain, but my own view is that there must be a deeper grounding initiated by the author. It is despicable (and illegal) to juxtapose characters from television shows into lackluster narratives. It is laudable when one does something with it to create a grander meditation (such as Tom Carson’s GILLIGAN’S WAKE, which I don’t view as “fan fiction,” although by your terms certainly could be).

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